The solution for truck parking and detention? It’s a loaded question.
There are one billion reasons why now is the best time to solve the parking and detention problem.
It’s been two years since a report from the Department of Transportation’s office of Inspector General estimated that loading dock delays costs commercial vehicle drivers in the truckload sector “$1.1B to $1.3B” annually. With the electronic logging device (EDM) mandate — which tracks driver hours-of-service to the minute — detention delays have worsened.
Drivers take much of the hit. Excessive waiting times while the shipper unloads and loads freight costs individual truck drivers between $1,281 and $1,584 per year, according to the report. Most drivers are paid by the mile and limited to 11 hours of driving in a 14-hour workday per government regulations. A four-hour delay at the loading dock cuts directly into profitable drive time. Women drivers tend to wait more often — with 55% reporting delays compared to 47% of male drivers.
It’s costing the trucking companies, too, with many of them compensating drivers for “sitting.” Even though these drivers are paid while parked for extended periods while waiting for a loading dock, it pales in comparison to what they can make driving. In a competitive market, drivers are searching for firms that promise fewer parking delays.
It’s an untenable situation, with all parties losing money via excessive unloading and loading times. Shippers are often charged detention rates for delays exceeding two hours. Trucking and logistics companies have become more diligent about monitoring detention, and more willing to increase rates for habitual tardiness. In fact, new apps strictly police detention — automatically billing the shipper in 15-minute increments, beginning the moment the negotiated detention time has expired.
“Driver detention is an urgent issue that must be addressed by our industry. It’s a matter of fairness.”
-Don Thornton, Chief Relationship Officer & SVP at DAT Solutions
The dangers of parking
Every day, thousands of drivers arrive at their destination, only to find there are no loading docks or crews to unload the freight. There’s also no place to park while they wait. As a result, they end up searching for any place safe and large enough to park nearby. Some find a rest area or truck stop. But these can be overwhelmed quickly. Other drivers aren’t so lucky. They end up driving for extended periods, searching for a place to park. Often, they are forced to park in less-desirable locations, putting the driver in danger and overwhelming the local infrastructure.
Municipality leaders don’t want more trucks in public areas. And they don’t want more accidents on their roads. Unfortunately, more driving time will inevitably lead to more accidents. In fact, the DOT report estimated that the average crash rate increased by 6.2% for every 15-minute increase in dwell time.
Detention and parking delays impact the entire supply chain, from the crews on the loading dock to the drivers to the logisticians monitoring it all back in the office. As a result, we need to work collectively to resolve it:
Regular business reviews. It’s critical that 3PLs and trucking companies discuss performance, identify key problem areas and introduce potential changes with each shipper to help reduce parking time for drivers and accessorial fees for the shipper.
Yard maps. Shippers can share maps of each property, so drivers know exactly where to check in upon arrival, where to park and where to find assistance while they wait for a loading dock and crew availability.
Extended hours. By extending receiving hours slightly, shippers can reduce detention rates significantly — and minimize the glut of drivers waiting to unload at the same time.
Drop-and-hook service. For trucking asset companies with a 3-to-1 or more trailer-to-tractor ratio, drop-and-hook service is standard. The driver simply “drops” the trailer, “hooks” an empty trailer, and heads back home. Often, the shipper is allowed to use the dropped trailer for storage as a courtesy. But shippers and carriers must work diligently to ensure that these trailer pools don’t expand and sap the fleet. In addition, drop service is not feasible for live freight. When it works seamlessly, drivers wait less — and both shippers and the trucking and logistics company are more profitable.
There is no surefire method to curb detention and parking issues for everybody, every time. But it’s critical that drivers, shippers, trucking companies and 3PLs continue to collaborate to find solutions that work for everybody. There’s a lot of money at stake for all of us.
Collins White, President of Logistics